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Skiing in the trees

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Skiing in the trees

Postby Williamtele » Mon Nov 11, 2013 11:00 am

In preparation for the season, I've been going through notes from past years. One sheet that I always come back to is from a clinic up at Jay Peak for skiing in the trees. Mike Beagan was the PSIA clinician and I'll apologize in advance for any inaccuracies in my notes. It's a laundry list of tree-specific tactics and strategies. Follow the advice at your own risk.

Plan your route. Your brain should be several turns ahead of your feet.
Shape your turns to control speed
Keep constant pressure on rear foot
Quick poling...keep hands in front and moving down the hill. The pole grips are flashlights
Avoid double poling as it tends to throw you back
Limited edging
Ski in teams
No pole straps
Try to not break at the waist...that pushes your hips back. Hips should be moving forward
Look down the hill, not at your skis
Constant pressure against front boot tongue
Keep front leg flexed, not stiff and defensive
Make lead changes gradual, which helps with turn shape
Compress over bumps, extend over dips. Try to keep constant pressure on the snow

Drills (not necessarily to be done in the trees)

Ski moguls w/o poles
Pull lead ski back as opposed to pushing rear ski forward
Slow and delayed lead changes
Twist the trailing ski in a traverse and then through a turn
Monomarks (of course) which are turns without making lead changes.
Practice edge releases and finding the "flat ski" (pivot slips)

Additional disclaimer. This is meant to be a conversation starter so feel free to add to the list. I happen to suck in the trees but I love the challenge of linking a few turns together. As the saying goes, "ski good or eat wood."
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby flyingcow » Mon Nov 11, 2013 12:32 pm

Williamtele wrote:Try to not break at the waist...that pushes your hips back. Hips should be moving forward


So this one stood out to me. I may be misinterpreting it, but I always thought that hips should be in constant motion with the skis. That allows for a quieter upper body which will help keep you forward. Can you expand a bit on this one?
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Grant » Mon Nov 11, 2013 1:39 pm

A few more:

Don't look at the trees, look between them
Never ski trees alone or very close to closing (if in bounds) as it's tough for patrol to sweep all the trees
Helmet?
Don't be afraid to parallel turn
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Williamtele » Tue Nov 12, 2013 10:10 am

Dang it...a followup question. I was afraid of this. But I'll take a shot.

Forward hip movement is THE trigger to turn initiation. It moves you across your skis, unlocks the old edges and engages the new ones. Even in the trees where you're not doing a lot of edging, it's the way you stay over your skis to allow them to rotate into the turn.

If you stand in front of a mirror facing sideways and bend at the waist, you'll see that your butt has to go backwards for you to maintain balance.

But I think your point is that the hips flow fore and aft as the turn evolves and I think that's absolutely right. The comment from my list, if I remember correctly, was to avoid adopting a static position with your arse hanging out the back window.
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Digger » Tue Nov 19, 2013 8:44 pm

I've heard referred to as "pushing the bush".
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Brenda » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:09 am

OK, another question. :twisted:

Why limited edging? I get this when there is a lot of powder, but I feel like I edge a fair bit in skied-out glades. Oddly, I really enjoy those conditions, as long as there aren't rocks and roots sticking out.

I ski the trees a lot, but I can't say I necessarily do it with a lot of grace. :oops:
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby freedan » Wed Nov 20, 2013 11:28 am

All comes down to ski good or eat wood. A stop on the dime hockey stop is essential when you end up in prison and can't just point em and blast through. - That and tips up, you can surf over virtually anything as long you get the tips riding up and over and not augering in. But what do I know, I've never had a day of instruction in my life.
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Williamtele » Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:43 pm

I think I can handle that one Brenda. Edges serve two main functions (actually three if you count cutting your fingers)...steering and speed control. My notes from the clinic lacked important clarification. I think the idea is to flatten your skis for efficient rotation and better shaping in the woods which will help control your speed. Does that make any sense? When you watch a really good tele skier in the woods, don't they look like they're going really slowly? Skiing a flat ski is harder than it sounds. In our instructor training at Waterville every season, we spend at least one session on the bunny hill making skiddy turns. By the end of an hour, everyone is exhausted. So we start drinking. Keep that in mind. Skiddy turns lead to drinking.
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Biff » Wed Nov 20, 2013 4:18 pm

Williamtele wrote: Skiddy turns lead to drinking.


That explains a lot... :)
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby flyingcow » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:29 pm

Biff wrote:
Williamtele wrote: Skiddy turns lead to drinking.


That explains a lot... :)


Which again leads to skiddier turns...
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Biff » Wed Nov 20, 2013 7:59 pm

flyingcow wrote:
Biff wrote:
Williamtele wrote: Skiddy turns lead to drinking.


That explains a lot... :)


Which again leads to skiddier turns...



.....which leads to more drinking.
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Rene-Martin Trudel » Thu Nov 21, 2013 4:49 pm

Great stuff,

Tree skiing is my favorite terrain out east for sure. Here's my point of view.

I would have to agree to (almost) everything Will said but that's not exactly what I would teach:

My 5 key points are:
Choose your terrain and snow quality = confident attitude
Lots of vertical movement, exploding up
Hands in front
Look up and focus 1 and a half turn ahead (general guideline)
Stay compact in your tele stance


To conclude
The important difference in my approach is I always teach to move the rear foot FORWARD in the lead change. Theoretically, it forces my body to adopt an aggressive dynamic movement. That's not always what happens (I also move my foot backwards in certain situations) But in my head, I want to dominate the terrain and go forward 95% of the time. The remaining 5%, I move my feet back ward to gain a bit of time, as an emergency maneuver, to turn faster.

No pole straps and no ski straps either!
I never talk about hips when I explain movement. Hips are part of the core, heavy to move, hard to know what is happening there. Focus on feet, arms, hands, head, the rest will follow.

Let me know what you think

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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Brenda » Thu Nov 21, 2013 7:53 pm

OK, this may become one of my all time favorite threads! Seriously, did this ever come up over on that *other* forum? Of course not--tree skiing out west is like skiing groomers to NE folk. This is one reason why I am so jazzed that TeleEast is starting to buzz. Plus we have a great community here in NE.

Rene, terrific points--thanks! It's so great having different instructors chime in--we all have different ways of perceiving and explaining the same thing.

I like all of your 5 key points, but for me, it always comes back to:
Hands in front

I am definitely working on moving rear foot forward--very key, but not easy for this gal. I am about opposite of you: 5% forward, 95% back. :lol: OK, maybe not that bad these days, but it still needs work. And that will help with another of your key points: Stay compact in your tele stance.

Interesting about hips. I have recently (within the last 3-4 seasons or so, thanks to NET and PSIA training) become MUCH more aware of my hips. It definitely came about as a result of other drills/practice I've been doing, but once you feel it, it really helps to remember to move those hips! Perhaps something to talk about with more advanced students?
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Grant » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:41 pm

Image
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Re: Skiing in the trees

Postby Breck » Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:56 pm

Rene-Martin Trudel wrote:
No pole straps and no ski straps either!

Rene


Yikes! I ski with leashes in trees... It never occurred that I should remove them but it makes sense. Is there a better compromise than skiing without leashes at all? My Hammer Heads are not going to take brakes. I use Blue Bird leashes http://www.orscrosscountryskisdirect.com/bluebird-day-telemark-leashes.html.

Maybe I should leash to my hammerheads heel piece and tape the leash to the back of my boot with some sort of wrap around the boot. Thoughts? I ski resort mostly so I really should have leashes.

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